Name: Desert Nightsnake (Hypsiglena chlorophaea)
Order: Snakes (Squamata)
Family: Common Snakes (Colubridae)
What they look like
- Small smooth-scaled snakes ranging from 12 to 26 inches in length.
- Their underside is white and their upper side is light gray, light brown, or beige with many repeating blotches of dark gray, brown, or black.
- Two dark blotches running from each of their eyes to their neck are especially large.
- Their head is triangular and rather flat.
- Females tend to be larger and longer than males.
Where they live
- View a map of where they live.
- Can be found in southern British Columbia, western United States, Texas, and some parts of Mexico.
- They can adapt to many environments, including rocky grassland areas, chaparral, woodlands, desert scrub, thorn scrub, and moist mountain meadows.
- They often hide under plant debris or rocks.
What they eat
- Lizards and frogs are the majority of the night snake’s diet.
- Salamanders, small snakes, and small mice can also be eaten.
- Like their name suggests, desert nightsnakes hunt during the night.
- They use their mild venom to help subdue prey.
- Sometime between April and July, females search for rock crevices or abandoned mammal burrows to lay their eggs.
- They lay 3 to 9 eggs, which will hatch about 7 to 8 weeks later.
Cool Biology Facts
- Desert nightsnakes are often mistaken for looking like rattlesnakes. However, unlike rattlesnakes, night snakes do not have a rattle on the end of their tail and their venom is harmless to humans.
- A southwestern Idaho study found that female desert nightsnakes are 50% longer than males and have triple the body mass!
- Desert nightsnakes are considered “least concern” because they have large and stable populations in the vast majority of their range.
- View their status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.